With the Timberwolves welcoming back Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko to the starting lineup after nearly three weeks on the shelf, last night’s win over the New Orleans Hornets was a case study in shaking off the rust.
So let’s start by looking at some of Pek’s play on the defensive end in the first quarter. Here are several defensive possessions by the Wolves that leave a lot to be desired, particularly from Pek:
There’s an airballed hookshot, poor defensive rotations, apathetic rebounding effort, and lead-footed pick-and-roll defense.
But wait: suspend your judgment for a moment because there’s more at work here than just a lack of effort. First of all, neither Pekovic nor Kirilenko actually got to practice with the team before coming back. Normally, there are a set of steps that a player goes through to work back from an injury that involve gradual steps from conditioning to shooting to contact and eventually to full 5-on-5 work. But with the Wolves only dressing nine players for the last several weeks and a jam-packed schedule full of back-to-backs that isn’t allowing for many practices, they didn’t have much choice. Continue Reading…